“Jail” by Kanye West (ft. Jay-Z)

Anyone familiar with the history of Kanye West and Jay-Z would know that the latter is considered to be the industry figure that put the former on. Well actually, this relationship can be defined as a mutually beneficial affair, considering that Yeezy has produced many a song for Jigga, dating back to one of Shawn’s best-known classics, 2001’s Izzo (H.O.V.A.)

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Kanye West's Jail at Lyrics.org.

Also, being that West is in fact a signee of Jay-Z, one has to presume that he’s already made millions of dollars for Mr. Carter via his own hits. Furthermore, Kanye has even gone as far as to refer to Jigga as his “big brother” in one of his own classics. 

But sometimes, even close personal/professional relationships such as these can get strained. And as fate would have it, the two of them have been on the outs for the last few years leading up to this track.

Lyrics of “Jail”

And the reason we’re bringing all of the above up is because theoretically Kanye is speaking to that selfsame beef throughout the first half of the song “Jail”, albeit very metaphorically.

For instance, in the first verse, on the surface it reads as if he’s chanting about street violence. But he also more revealingly mentions having to ‘change his number’ to prevent the relationship between himself and another person – presumably a loved one who would actually have Yeezy’s personal contact – from further deteriorating.

It has verifiably been put forth that who West is referring to in that particular regard would be his wife, Kim Kardashian. However, taking the above background into consideration in addition to the ambiguity of the verses overall, Yeezus concludes that ‘we’re all liars’. 

So in that regard he is obviously referring to interpersonal relationships overall, i.e. when issues develop such as Kanye versus Kim K. or Kanye versus Jigga, that at the end of the day all involved are to blame. 

Therefore, even though an elaborate explanation has been given as to what the title means within the context of the chorus, more simply put it appears that what Kanye is acknowledging is in fact a Biblical concept, that of everyone being sinners, most generally explained. 

And that is why he ends the verse itself by relatedly stating that ‘God is going to post his bail tonight’, i.e. God being the salvation of sinners, if you will, such as himself.


Meanwhile Jigga, well going back to the aforementioned Izzo, he was perhaps the first mainstream rapper to effectively incorporate religious symbolism into what would be generally classified as secular songs. 

So an artist such as himself wouldn’t have any problems namedropping “God” not only as a faithful figure but also in terms of likening his own greatness to being “made in the image of God”. 

Indeed other such references to the “Lord”, “Moses and Jesus” are also present. But in the latter case, Jigga is actually comparing “Hova and Yeezus”, i.e. himself and Kanye, to said figures.  And before making that statement, he also drops a couple of lines buttressing the theory put forth above, that this song is partially based on the concept of him and West coming to realize that acknowledging one’s personal faults was in order for them to bury the hatchet.

But all of that noted, his verse is actually based on a motif of the vocalist being in jail. So he drops a number of lyrics, symbolically, in that regard.  And yes, as already stated Jigga does use the opportunity to big up the Most High. 

But more to the point we can say is his ability to once again include such references in a way which ultimately leads to Jay-Z doing what he does best, which is boasting.

Lyrics of Kanye West's "Jail"

What “Jail” is all about

So conclusively, first and foremost Jail may be classified as a relationship song, i.e. one in which a listener can turn to get insight on how Kanye in particular philosophically views, even if not necessarily in depth, issues developing in interpersonal associations. 

Then secondly it would arguably be a praise song which, oddly enough in this case, Jigga does more of than Yeezus. And then finally it’s more like your normal rap song, i.e. one in which the vocalist(s) lets it be known that despite less-than-ideal circumstances in his life, he’s no slacker.

“Jail” Facts

Primary Artist(s): Kanye West
Featured Artist(s): Jay-Z
Album/EP: “Donda” 

Was “Jail” a single release?



The following are the official holders of the song’s writing credits:

  • Kanye West
  • JAY-Z
  • 88-Keys
  • MikeDean
  • Mark Williams
  • Raul Cubina
  • Sean Solymar
  • The Influence

Kanye’s “Donda” Album

Universal Records, the record label of American Billionaire rapper Kanye West, released his highly anticipated tenth studio album, Donda, on August 29, 2021. The album’s title, Donda, was inspired by the memories and affection of the rapper for his late mother, Donda West.

Before the album’s release, Kanye West temporarily stayed at the Mercedes Benz Stadium, Atlanta. Here, he set up a temporal studio in one of its locker rooms to record vocals and sounds for Donda.

The official and initial release date of Donda was July 24, 2020. Kanye organized three listening events for Donda’s thousands of fans at the Mercedes Benz Stadium, Atlanta, and Chicago’s Soccer Field. However, he delayed the album’s release multiple times before and after the listening events.

He also claims that when Universal Records finally released the album in August, 2021, they did not have his approval to release it. 

Donda is a well outlined long album that contains 27 tracks with many top artist features. The themes of the album focus on the following topics ranging from Christianity to racism to mental health. 

1 Response

  1. Anonymous says:

    A truly brilliant article!! Thanks for the enlightenment (:

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